NEWPORT — The United States Senate passed a resolution Thursday, Aug. 16, supporting a free and independent press, running counter to President Trump’s rhetoric in recent months declaring the news media “the enemy of the American people.”
The resolution was passed to match the timing of several news publications across the country publishing editorials denouncing the president’s scathing treatment of the press and to advocate for the institution of journalism in general.
The resolution affirmed “that the press is not the enemy of the people” and that the Senate will “uphold, cherish and protect the entire Constitution, including the freedom of the press.”
The Senate’s resolution is a simple resolution, which can address a matter or express the sentiments of a single house. Simple resolutions are not laws and don’t have the effect of laws, and as such, don’t require the approval of another house or need the signature of the president.
The resolution is a powerful statement by the Senate, and not just in light of the president’s recent remarks. Five people were killed in a newsroom shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md. in June, prompting fears the president’s anti-media attitudes are spreading to the public. The accused gunman in the Capital Gazette shooting, Jarrod Ramos, may be entering a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, according a story published by the Capital Gazette on Wednesday, Aug. 15.
While local leaders didn’t return calls to make their own statements, a few in the community commented about the Senate’s support of the press.
“That’s a good thing, because it’s a first amendment right,” said tourist Bren Baker of the Senate’s resolution. “It’s something that should be practiced.”
Baker isn’t alone in that view.
“I’m totally disgusted with Trump’s treatment of the press,” said Ellen Furstner, an activist from Marcola. “I support the resolution. Freedom of the press is an important thing for a democracy to keep the people informed.”
Self-proclaimed supporters of President Trump also thought the Senate’s resolution was a step in the right direction.
“I do believe he’s gotten a lot of bad press in the past,” said a visitor to the Undersea Gardens in Newport, Linda Braden. “I do understand why it was passed, though.”
A local man, Rocky Gonzalez, a dancer for the Siletz tribe, also supported the resolution.
“I say go for it,” he said of the Senate’s passage of the resolution.